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LETTER: A decade’s worth of shoddy academic work

The following letter was sent to IntraFish by Jim Gilmore, director of Public Affairs, At-sea Processors Association, in response to the opinion column "A retraction is not enough" published Wednesday.

I read with great interest today’s editorial on the 2017 Pramod Pitcher paper with its assertions about the presence of IUU Alaska pollock in the Japanese marketplace—assertions that are spurious, unfounded, and damaging to the reputation of seafood products produced from one of the world’s best managed fisheries.

I appreciate your continued pursuit of this story, notwithstanding the stonewalling by the paper’s authors, the foot-dragging of Marine Policy in upholding standards of academic rigor, and most disappointingly, the failure of the Walton Family Foundation, which funded the paper, to move forward with an independent review of the paper.

A retraction is not enough

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As you point out, the allegations of widespread presence of IUU Alaska pollock in the Japanese market are without foundation and call into question the authors’ previous assertions in a 2014 paper using the same methodology about high levels of IUU seafood products in the US market.

As IntraFish notes, the flawed 2014 Pramod Pitcher paper is cited by NOAA Fisheries as the policy rationale for SIMP, a program that increases consumers’ costs and further complicates seafood trade.

The Pew Trusts’ new IUU fishing initiative is based on a 2002 paper by Pramod Pitcher that alleged global IUU fishing levels three times higher than the amount estimated in a 2005 paper authored by the reputable MRAG organization.

Pew’s website headlines the “landmark” study by Pramod Pitcher that 20 percent of all fish consumed globally is IUU fish, an apparently unfounded assertion that threatens consumer confidence. https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/projects/ending-illegal-fishing-project.

More than a decade’s worth of shoddy academic work that creates market uncertainty, stains the reputation of seafood producers globally, and drives misdirected policy decisions by government deserves attention.

Thanks to you and IntraFish for leading media coverage on this topic.

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